Wednesday 1 February 2023 Dublin: 9°C
INPHO/Ryan Byrne Brian Cody on the sideline during yesterday's sgock Leinster final defeat.
'We don’t deal in excuses' -- Kilkenny chief Cody left to regroup after Leinster capitulation
Ewan MacKenna met a Kilkenny manager who was gracious as ever in Croke Park yesterday.

SOME PEOPLE SUGGEST Brian Cody is dull. But so much of that is because of how he carries himself.

When Kilkenny win he puts things in perspective. On the rare occasion Kilkenny lose he still puts things in perspective and he’s at it again in the Croke Park media room despite the shock that must slowly be settling in.

Yet here he is half an hour after the final whistle thinking about how sport works and talking about how team dynamics work. For that reason it’s impossible not to admire him for if winning shows your good side, losing shows your true side.

And both his sides are the same.

“I’m not sure about the ‘surprised’ bit to be honest,” he says. “I haven’t a different story to what I had before the game. I said they were capable of beating us and we were capable of beating them on different days, whatever way the game works out. They obviously got on top very, very early and they were by far the better team and that’s the way it works. The better team always wins on the day. That’s sport essentially.

“Nobody has a monopoly on anything in sport — certainly, we never considered we had. Obviously they played with a great intensity, with a great everything about their game. They dominated the game. The  winners were very, very emphatic.”

He’s been here before on far better days — and no doubt he will be again — yet his facial expression remains the same. There are no highs or lows, there are just victories and lessons. Next question, was it Galway winning or Kilkenny losing this one? “It’s always a combination of both. They sort of took control of the game and didn’t allow us into it but that’s something we’ve done to other teams in the past as well and you have to go with what you have on any given day. Our response wasn’t good enough in the first half, for sure. Our year is still alive obviously with the quarter-final and that’s the challenge now.

“As for expectation, it’s certainly not an excuse for today. We don’t deal in excuses. It’s not as if we have the preserve on whatever’s out there. I’ve sat here before or wherever you have to sit having lost games with Kilkenny and that’s the way it is. We don’t make excuses. If you were to use the fact that everyone else thinks you’re going to win the game, it’s a very poor excuse to have. It’s won and lost on the field.”

Here come the cavalry

With Michael Fennelly and JJ Delaney to return, that’ll lift Kilkenny as if they don’t have enough inspiration to now put right what they’ll see as an outrageous wrong. But Cody plays that down too saying they’ve never used being short players as an excuse either and by now you get the sense they simply don’t do excuses of any kind. “We had 15 players ready to start and 15 players ready to come in and we always thought with our panel that not having players wasn’t a reason at all as far as we were concerned.

“That first half was hard, however if you feel it’s a lost cause at half-time with 35 minutes to go you should be somewhere else really. That’s for certain. I would never have seen it as a lost cause. You can never, ever have that attitude and I think our players showed that that wasn’t their attitude. They took the battle to Galway and went at it and up to the very last second of the game we were still trying. You play with pride in your jersey and for your position, you play for your county, you play for your team and you don’t ever stop giving of your best. Certainly a lost cause would never come into it.

And what now, you ask, almost as a rhetorical question but he answers anyway. “Yeah, we’re still there and obviously the anticipation for ourselves is going to be lessened, presumably fairly dramatically because today Galway showed themselves to be at a superior level right now. Galway would always be on my list of potential All-Ireland winners and right now they’ve shown exactly the capabilities they have. They’ve terrific hurlers and every element of the game that’s needed, they have it and a terrific group of young talent coming through as well. Look, the All-Ireland championship is wide open. We’re thankfully still there and we’ll see where it goes.”

You can be sure no one else is glad they are still in it though. If they are dangerous under normal circumstances, a wounded cat is a different beast. But as for Cody, he is the same beast.

Gracious in victory. Equally gracious in defeat.

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